The Monday After Last Valentine’s

Monday had mercifully come at last, pulling Lakshmi out of a post-party slump. She woke up at her usual time, did her usual routine, and started her usual walk to work. She breathed in the crisp winter morning air and breathed out a heavy sigh. Sunday had dragged on for what seemed like 25 months, with her hangover pounding into her skull. The other girls had disappeared long before Lakshmi emerged from her room, so naturally the mess had been left to her. She couldn’t even waste energy being annoyed; every ounce of strength had been spent keeping her head from exploding. She plodded through the apartment slowly, garbage bag in tow, picking up artifacts from the night before. Cups, plates, napkins, beer bottles, and what she could have sworn was an empty bottle of kombucha. She had taken down all of the decorations, and ended up mopping the sticky remains of dropped jelly shots off of the floor. She thought they looked blue, meaning they were probably her own shots. She’d always had a weakness for blue raspberry flavoured anything. Stopping short of her office building, she glanced at her reflection on the building and examined her tongue. Even after almost a whole day of brushing, her tongue was still bright blue. Another icy sigh later, she was through the heavy building doors and on her way up to her desk.

She was early, as usual. James wasn’t there yet, as usual. So she did her usual morning routine. She scrolled mindlessly through her phone for 20 minutes, to prime herself for a day of mindlessly scrolling through and then writing gossip blasts. A picture of Kali on Snapgram gave her pause. While they waited for an ambulance on Friday morning, Kali had sprawled majestically in a booth, one boot on, one boot dangling off, and demanded a picture. She made it look like an editorial spread, even while she grimaced in pain.

Lakshmi couldn’t help but stare at the boots. They looked just like the ones…it only took a few seconds of scrolling to find it: the day they had met almost 5 years ago, the day of The Incident. Staring at that picture of the two of them standing next to a cardboard standee of a dancing cartoon condom, she was taken back to when she was a just a young community radio intern on her first assignment. Walking into that adult novelty store, Lakshmi had expected to find a lot of things. Shifty-eyed old men looking at her funny, colourful devices that might spark latent curiosities, leather devices that might terrify her, but she never expected Kali. Not a statuesque brown girl with legs for days and a perfect hourglass figure all dressed in leather (but not the scary leather – the cute leather). Not the girl with the big beautiful eyes and the sweetest, most innocent smile that seemed both out of place and right at home in that store. Even to this day, she didn’t know if it was her staring at Kali that caused The Incident in the first place. Either way, after surviving something like the Incident together, their friendship had been cemented. She stared at the picture just a little bit longer than she knew she should have. Who knew red thigh-high leather boots looked so good with a purple pleather dress…and those strategically placed cut-outs…

“Hot and brown, coming through!” James’ voice cut through Lakshmi’s patent leather daydreams. James arrived carrying enough coffee to last them until their next coffee. “And he brought coffee!” James launched into their usual morning routine; debriefing Lakshmi on all the real life gossip that she couldn’t report on. Coming out of the party, there were the usual bits: Grace got naked and ran around the balcony until Vishnu brought her back inside and got clothes back on her. Naomi went to bed early, despite protests. Kali and James were the last to leave, early the next morning, for 4am Chinese food. But the new news was all Taylor, the new guy. Apparently, Taylor had fallen madly in love with a picture of Lizzie that was on the fridge. 2 bottles of hard kombucha in and he was professing his love to her. Lakshmi remembered none of this, because she had spent most of the night on the balcony, thinking about the Sex God. As James replayed the videos he took of Taylor reciting sonnets to the refrigerator, Lakshmi replayed her own finest moments from the party in her mind. In the pro column, she had listened to James and changed out of her terrifying costume into her sexy costume. She hadn’t fallen down once, and she hadn’t thrown up. And the crowning achievement of the night, she hadn’t punched Taylor in the face when he started rattling off the 37 reasons why he thought Bollywood was stupid when her favourite song had come on. Sure, she had been carried away from him and locked out on the balcony, but she still didn’t punch him. But on the other side of the list, she kept replaying everything that had happened between herself and Vishnu. Every oddly timed giggle, every spacey “ya, sure”, and every time she had been near him and hadn’t thrown him down and shagged him senseless; by her count, 67 times.

“So what do you think?” James’ voice again pulled her out of her day dreams, this time less fantasy and more self-deprecating nightmare.
“What?” she said, snapping back into reality.
“Taylor. What’s his deal?” James was already digging through his email and starting to actually work, all while Lakshmi sat in a daze.
“I still think he’s an ass,” Lakshmi said.
“Yes, that’s not up for discussion. But what about his ass? Do you think I have a shot?” James shot back.
“You just said he’s in love with Lizzie. He’s clearly not playing on your team right now, if at all. Do the sports analogies help?”
“Don’t worry, I can fix that. No one can be that hot and not be a little gay. And you’re making an effort with the sports stuff, so I’ll allow it. But it’s not great.”
“Neither is saying that he’s ‘a little bit gay’. That’s so offensive”.
“Fine, he’s a little bit bi”.
“That’s better”.

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Unbelievably Still Last Valentine’s, at night

“What the hell are you wearing?” James’s voice echoed in the empty apartment, seeming to gain support from the entire condo. Lakshmi rolled her eyes.

“It’s a theme party. I’m dressed up as-” she was cut off abruptly.

“You’re dressed up as another frigid winter of sexlessness. Now go wash your face, and put on the nice, human girl costume that I know you have somewhere. You know, pretend to be human? I know you can do it. I believe in you. And hurry up: the guys are here but I told them to take the stairs. You’ve got about 10 minutes before they make it up here,” James laughed, making his way over to the laptop to change the music. “You’ll thank me after you’re re-dressed,” he called into the hallway, hearing a muffled string of nonsense coming from Lakshmi’s general direction.

“So, its you and me, plus the girls, and Vishnu’s coming. You said he’s bringing his roommate? What’s he like? Is he cute? Single? Gay? Bi? Flirty when drunk?” he called out, putting on some Beyonce. Lakshmi stumbled out of her room, now looking more human and alluring in a Morticia Adams styled black lace dress.

“He’s an ass, or he sounds like one. I’ve never met him,” she added, stopping before he could comment on her transformation “At least the bloodstains on my mouth helped the red lipstick… you can’t see it on my chin anymore, can you? Shit, shit, he’s here. Act boring so I look good,” she whispered, hearing voices in the hall.

“Boring or bored? One requires no acting. Straight people…” James muttered as Vishnu opened the door.

After obligatory hand shaking and name repeating, in triplicate, they settled down in the living room with some drinks. Vishnu wandered over to the laptop and put on some Kanye while James stared at Taylor conspicuously. Lakshmi nudged him, but he only leaned in to look more intensely.

“I know you from somewhere. Do you do yoga at Prisma downtown?” James asked.

“Yes, I do! Every day at lunch, and twice a day on weekends when I can! Do you normally wear neon blue leggings?” While Taylor and James bonded over their mutual love of the smoothies at their yoga studio, Naomi arrived home from work. She waved hi, rushed into her room to change, and Lakshmi downed her drink melodramatically before walking up to the Sex God.

“So, good day at work?” she started, offering one of Grace’s mini calzones.

“Can’t complain, how about you, Mrs. Adams? I didn’t think that you were serious about the costumes,” Vishnu said, looking her up and down. ‘Why had they never hooked up?’ he thought to himself. Naomi, his ex-girlfriend of not that long ago walked back into the room, wearing a cheerleader costume and covered in fake blood. Even half dead, she looked drop dead gorgeous.

“That’s why,” he said out loud accidentally. Luckily, Lakshmi just smiled and giggled. What was she talking about? Was she talking? Damn, was this calzone ever good.

“Let’s play a game!” Vishnu called out, breaking his own awkward train of thought. “It’s an anti-Valentine’s party so how about an anti-love game? Cards Against Humanity; the least romantic thing wins”.

“I’ll grab the shots,” Lakshmi called out, running to the kitchen to hyperventilate in private. Naomi followed her in and looked at her with concern.

“You know, he isn’t worth all this trouble. I mean, yeah he’s a great boyfriend, but you don’t need to be…. Lakshmi? Are you ok?” Naomi made sure that, between her gasps into an LCBO bag, she was ok. She brought the jello shots into the living room and they started playing. Lakshmi came in and picked up the hand they had dealt her, smiling as if nothing had happened.

“So, how was everyone’s day?” James asked, dealing a devastating blow with his answer to What does the fox say? (Teenage pregnancy; absolutely not romantic, Juno be damned).

“Oh, ask Vishnu, he sent me the funniest text today about some model wiping out and breaking her leg!” Taylor gushed, practically pissing himself with giddy laughter. Everyone else in the room exchanged a look. “What? C’mon, don’t be like that; none of you guys are models. Wait, are you?” He asked, looking around at their very attractive faces, concerned that he had crossed the line of appropriate first meeting conversation.

“No, it’s just that…” Lakshmi started. She didn’t need to continue because the door swung open at that moment, and Kali hopped into the room on crutches, with Grace following behind her. She was following because Kali was wearing a red gown with a long, flowing train. You couldn’t even see her cast under the layers of billowing fabric gathered around her feet. How she managed not to trip was anyone’s guess.

“Hey guys! Are we the last ones here?” Kali hobbled over to Lakshmi, who took her crutches and gave up her seat so she could sprawl on the big chair. The entire room watched as Taylor connected the dots, and then watched his alabaster face flush as he realized what he’d said.

“So, are they letting you keep the dress?” James asked, mercifully letting Taylor sit in shameful silence. “I thought you said it was a theme shoot? At the aquarium?” James pawed at the tulle sarcastically.

“It was! I was a mermaid, and they had all these poufy gowns and they covered my cast so it all worked out. And they let me pick one, so I chose this one. Only kinda because I ripped it a little when I tried to take it off, and I didn’t want them to find out, but also because it’s gorgeous! I hope it’ll fit in The Closet,” Kali responded, holding both her head and a pink plastic cup of lemon-lime pop high. “I only had like 3 hours of sleep last night, and I’m tripping on T3s, so I think we can all cut me some slack. Oooh, mini calzones!” She put three in her mouth at the same time and struggled to chew all of them simultaneously. Lakshmi took the opportunity to draw attention away from her friend’s mouth.

“Can I just propose a toast? Now that we’re all here, and finally in the same place, I just want to say how happy I am that, even though we’re all alone this Valentine’s, we have each other. I mean, I know I’ve just met you Taylor, but I definitely feel like I know you. So cheers, to loneliness and a weird hangover tomorrow from candy hearts and cheap vodka!” Lakshmi clinked her plastic shot glass against everyone else’s and downed her first (of many) shots of Blue, her jiggly drink of choice. She had decided, after the day she had endured, that flats were the only sane option, so she didn’t trip when she heard a scream from the kitchen a few minutes later. She rushed to see what was wrong.

“Why would you put…. it’s Valentine’s Day! What is… I don’t think I like your theme parties…” Taylor was stammering in the direction of the counter top, on which rested a bowl of candy with a fake severed hand that moved if you tried to take any candy. “This is not cool, seriously. This is totally going in my blog.” He stormed back into the living room, angrily opened a heart shaped chocolate, and left Lakshmi alone with Vishnu. He had run over when he heard his roommate’s trademark shriek. She met his eyes for a moment, arching an eyebrow.

“Taylor is… a good guy. He really is,” Vishnu said, in answer to her unspoken question. It would have been convincing if Lakshmi were paying attention. He had put his hands on her shoulders to face her towards him as he explained how great it was living with him, and how his quirks were annoying but he was really cool most of the time. Her heartbeat quickened just a little bit, realizing how much like her dreams this all was. She came back to earth just in time to hear Grace laugh in the living room, letting her know that she was approaching the sweet spot in her drunkenness and the party was about to get started. She looked up at Vishnu, who was smiling.

“You know, you have really pretty eyes. I don’t know why I never noticed them before. Maybe its all the pink light bulbs but they really … I don’t know why I never noticed them before,” he smiled at her, with his stupid beautiful eyes beaming down at her from more than a foot above. Stupid, beautiful, Canadian Sex God.

“Thanks. I….think Grace is almost drunk now. We should get in there before…” she sputtered out non-sequiturially.

“Right. Drunk Grace. I don’t think the police could see if she took off her clothes and ran around on your balcony, but your neighbours might so I better … and she’s on the balcony. I’ll be right back,” Vishnu laughed as he ran after their friend.

“Right. I’ll be… here,” Lakshmi muttered to herself, reaching for another shot of Blue and looking at her reflection in the mirror by the doorway. “Waiting.”

Somehow Still Last Valentine’s, but it’s evening now

“What do you mean you’re running late?” Lakshmi shrieked into her headset. She was running up the stairs, juggling 3 brown paper bags from the LCBO, and was not prepared to be hearing this. “Naomi, you said you were going to be home an hour ago! Are you telling me that when I get upstairs, the apartment will have no decorations at all? Not even a festive cherub shooting an arrow at a skeleton?” She shuffled her way up the last flight, suddenly only too aware of the fact that she was still wearing the heels from the morning.

“I don’t know what to tell you, Taylor left early and all these files that he had never made it to my department, and if I don’t get them finished…” Lakshmi heard Naomi rustling through papers and the whir of the printer, realizing that not only was this an actual issue on her end, but that she was still at work and not even on her way home.

“Ok, I get it. But your work friend Taylor sounds like a giant bag of dicks. Be careful on the ice. And please don’t forget the custom candy hearts when you come home,” Lakshmi hung up by gracefully pushing her face against the wall and nudging the headset button with her nose. “Hello, Mrs. Mayberry! Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said meekly, acknowledging her septuagenarian neighbour. Finally at her door, she prayed Grace was home as she knocked on the door. With her head. She head-butted the door. It was a long, long Friday. The door opened and mercifully, it was Grace, not an axe murderer.

“Lakshmi? What are you… why are you wearing the heels? Did you the Sex God visit today?” Grace asked, taking one of the bags out of her arms. Lakshmi saw that she was dressed to go outside.

“No, it has to do with Kali and her leg. Long story; did you hear yet? And are you leaving now? Because Naomi is running late and she didn’t decorate and … did you cook?” She took off her outer layers and peeled off her shoes, pants, and her jewellery before noticing the aroma of food, actual food. She couldn’t remember the last time she had smelled such wonderful smells.

“Yeah, I heard about Kali. I’m taking her Naomi’s crutches and then bringing her here from her photo shoot. I’m leaving right now. I made all the food for tonight, and the shots are in the fridge. And is the Sex God coming tonight? I need to have some words with him,” Grace didn’t miss a beat and somehow had learned to match Lakshmi’s frantic, syncopated pace. Even though she hadn’t met Lakshmi in university like she had her best friend Vishnu, they had fallen into step somewhere in the years that they’d lived together. Naomi was Kali’s ex, and Kali and Lakshmi had been best friends since The Incident.

“Oh my gosh, I forgot about Kali actually getting here. Ok, yes, you go do that, and I’ll decorate and set up the bar, and I can’t believe you made all the food! Thank you so much, I did not want to actually cook when I could spend that time getting cute instead. And yes, he is coming tonight, and he’s bringing his roommate. I’ve never met him before, but Naomi works with him. He sounds like an ass, but… okay, there is no but. He sounds like an ass. Make sure to be Graceful out there! You know it’ll ruin Kali’s mood if she’s not the centre of attention, so don’t break any limbs! And you’re gone. And I’m still talking to myself. Hello again, Mrs. Mayberry. Yes, I’ll have a good night. You too….” Lakshmi had talked Grace out the door and continued talking long after she went into the stairway. ‘When did I lose her? Was it the ass-butt?’ she thought, waving at her disgruntled neighbour as she closed the door and went to work.

This was the first real party she was throwing since moving into the apartment, and she wanted everything perfect. There just hadn’t been time to throw a party before Lizzie left the first time, or the second time, or the time after that, she thought to herself while she hung streamers and stacked plastic cups. Honestly, the last time all 4 roommates had been together was that time at Lizzie’s parent’s cottage. She couldn’t make it this time, either. She had sent her love from Russia, where she was enjoying weather a few degrees warmer than Toronto. “That bitch,” Lakshmi seethed productively to herself.

With time to spare, Lakshmi had pulled together the absolutely chic and in no way pathetic Anti-Valentine’s Day “I Hate Love Stories” themed decorations (which were actually a mixture of Halloween remnants and 2 year old Valentine’s decorations, with a mixture of angry music and Bollywood playing in the background). Grace’s snacks were set up in the kitchen, and the booze was sitting in buckets of snow on the balcony. She could actually take a moment and focus on getting ready to see the Sex Go-

“Wait; if the elevator is broken, how the hell will Kali get upstairs?” Lakshmi shouted out, midway through gluing on false eyelashes. Autopilot had taken over and, with the apartment decorated and herself only halfway coiffed, she had let it slip from her mind. She had 45 minutes before people were supposed to start showing up, and no way to get them upstairs. “Of all the days…. why, Zoidberg Jesus, why?” she cried out, eternally grateful for the condo’s sturdy, soundproof construction sheltering her neighbours from her outer inner dialogue. She pouted her way down 13 flights of stairs to argue with security about letting her use the freight elevator. As she waited impatiently for the security guard to return to their post, she nervously checked her phone. Lizzie sent a Snapgram from Russia, which looked suspiciously warm and cheery compared to Toronto; Vishnu tagged his roommate Taylor in a pre-gaming picture, that was just a bottle of Jäger and empty cans of some vile new purple energy drink; James was Twatting about how tacky costume parties were, and then he posted a Snapgram of himself dressed as Beetlejuice (or Robin Thicke, whichever was more horrifying); Kali posted a picture of Grace goofing off on her photo shoot, which seemed to be underwater; and Naomi updated her Bookface status to say she was finally on her way home from the office, finally. A shrill, girlish scream broke her concentration on her phone’s screen. Looking up, Lakshmi saw the usual weekend security guard clutching at his chest, staring at her like she was a ghost.

“What’s wrong? Mi- oh. Sorry,” she apologized, remembering that her costume was a succubus and she was wearing a very lovely white dress that she had stained in blood, and she had covered her mouth in blood, and paled her skin and made her face gaunt and basically she looked terrifying. “I’m so sorry, Mike. I’m having a theme party tonight, an Anti-Valentine’s Party so… that’s why the costume…” she explained, ignoring his face, which was only slowly regaining colour. “I know the elevators are out and I took the stairs today but one of my friends broke her leg so… could we use the freight elevator? Please? She’s coming up with Grace so you won’t even have to unlock it…” She was fairly sure that he would have given her anything she had asked for, looking the way she did. She thought she saw him make the sign of the cross as she headed back to the stairs, again.

Still Last Valentine’s Day

Away from the cacophony of the downtown hustle and bustle, Taylor pressed into his last pose. He exhaled slowly and returned to child’s pose. He listened to the rhythmic, soothing forest noises over the sound system. The instructor recited some words of wisdom from Confucius, or a tea bag, or some other equally wise and culturally ambiguous source. Taylor murmured a reverent NAHMAHSTAY as he left the sweaty room, bowling deeply as he exited. His yoga mat and 3 sweat drenched towels lay on the floor. Honestly, he didn’t have time to deal with them if he wanted to get one of the last Acai-Pomegranate-Blueberry recharge shakes. He rushed his shower, not even taking the time to style his hair, and dressed quickly in his Brooks Brothers suit. Running past the cleaning lady and nearly knocking her to the ground as he rounded the corner, he made eye contact with the smoothie stand attendant. ‘If he knows what’s good for him’, Taylor thought, ‘he’ll remember our deal’. Sure enough, he had an APB smoothie waiting for him. Taylor huffed and puffed as he pulled out his wallet.

“That’ll be $7.25,” the attendant said. Taylor pulled out a crisp, purple $10 bill and smiled at the attendant.

“You know what? You keep those quarters,” Taylor beamed, holding his hand out for his toonie. He picked up his smoothie from the counter, nearly knocking over the tip jar stuffed with bills, and walked away beaming ear to ear. ‘What a nice thing to do’ he thought to himself, thinking how few people would take the time out of their day to tip their smoothie guy. ‘And 75 cents? That’s more than 10%! That’s more than I tip waiters. That kid must be through the roof.’ He tried to hold onto his high, because as soon as he got back up to the office, it was back to the drudgery of his work day. He braved the 3 minutes of frigid February air on his face, pushing past someone to jump through the open door first. Like he was going to wait for that asshole with a cane? Canes haven’t been cool since 1999 – what a douchebag. He sauntered into the lobby and slurped his smoothie loudly as he waited for an elevator. A woman walked up next to him, also waiting for the elevator. He not so subtly checked out her figure, which he approved of, and when she sent him a sideways glare, he beamed, “TGIF, am I right?” She exhaled sharply and said something about taking the stairs. ‘Good for her’, Taylor thought, watching her hips sway as she walked away at a brisk pace. ‘It’s so great that the women at this company are so fitness oriented. I swear, almost every woman I’ve ever seen waiting for the elevator decides to take the stairs instead. Maybe that’s why we don’t hire fatties? Or maybe we do and I just never see them because they’re too busy shame eating at their desks. Ha! Classic Tay-tay. That is so going in my blog’. The elevator arrived and he stepped inside, slurping his way up to the top floor alone.

“Sign, stamp, file. Sign, stamp, file. Sign, sign, sign. Stamp, stamp, stamp. File, file, file,” Taylor sang to himself to no discernible tune whatsoever. He didn’t exactly understand what he was signing, or where the files ended up, but after his grandfather had passed on a huge chunk of the company to him, he thought it was only right to learn the ropes from the inside out. That, and the lawyers said something about there being a clause about him working a mandatory 5 years at the company in an entry level job before he got access to the signing rights… but really, it was all about the experience. He was almost done his fifth year and he almost entirely understood what the company did: it owned a lot of other smaller companies. On his desk, his cell phone buzzed. ‘I’ve been at work for an hour since I took yoga-lunch; I deserve a break,’ he thought. ‘It’s not like the McDonalds crew never slacks off a bit’. He thoughtfully scrolled through a social feed of indeterminate colour and origin. ‘Not that I actually know what they do at McDonalds. That is definitely not clean eating’. He then entered an hour long stupor of scrolling and laughing vacantly, stopping only to accept some files from his friend Naomi in accounting. Their mid-afternoon socializing was interrupted by a text from her ex who needed to borrow some crutches because they broke their leg. ‘That poor guy! He probably slipped on some ice,’ Taylor thought sympathetically. The last thing he did before he went back to work was read a text from his roommate. One of his friends had an ex who was a model, and she tripped in her heels and broke her leg. Laughing to himself at how clever he was, he sent off a Twat about models being too dumb to walk and think at the same time. Good ol’ Vishnu, he always had something for an afternoon laugh.

Last Valentine’s Day

“Fuck me…” Lakshmi groaned, rolling over to avoid the sickening neon red glow of her window. Sunlight. Morning. Early or late? She groped around blindly in her bed until her fingers touched something cold and hard. A quick glance at her phone told her that, on any other morning, she would have another 45 minutes of peaceful, undisturbed dreams of the Canadian Sex God. But today, she was late.

“Red in the morning…” she muttered to herself as she mechanically rose from her twisted linen cocoon.  “Is it sailor’s warning? Or shepherds? Why didn’t those professions just check whatever forecast the rest of the village used? I mean, they might not have had smartphones to tell them to grab an umbrella in the morning, but the rest of the town probably didn’t just stand there gawking at rain and lightning with their mouths agape. Or did they…”

She glanced in the mirror at the product of 15 minutes on autopilot, narrated by the soothing sounds of her shower brain thoughts. Washed, dressed, coiffed, and all with 5 minutes to spare.

“Then again…” she said to her reflection, evening her eyeliner with a practiced smudge of her finger, “this was when lipstick was considered witchcraft because it could seduce men. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit.” She blotted her red pout on a little square of paper, leaving a perfect little O.

“Thankfully, we’ve evolved.” She shot herself a smirk and a wink in the mirror as she got up to leave. Thanks to her phone’s dutiful warning, she grabbed her gloves, earmuffs, scarf, and a ski mask on her way out the door of apartment 1413, hearing the door click locked behind her.

‘She’s always early, you have to beat her there,’ Kali thought to herself. Her phone buzzed another angry reminder that she had breakfast with Lakshmi now. She checked her hair in the hallway mirror and tried to rub last night’s mascara into a fashionably grungy look. Her clock was telling her she had exactly 10 minutes to run to Fran’s, meaning she had woken up at 6:45, approximately 5 minutes ago, and she had enjoyed exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes of sleep. Why did she do this to herself? She ran past a group of impossibly peppy and awake tourists taking pictures of the flatiron building, who seemed blissfully ignorant of the fact that this was not New York, and she prayed that her towering heels wouldn’t give out under her while she was in front of that many people armed with cameras.

‘Wait, I don’t own any thigh high boots….not since The Incident,’ she realized as she ran through the park, sidestepping a cockapoodle and jumping over a french bulldog. She prayed the costume wrangler hadn’t cheaped out on footwear again, because she was not looking forward to a repeat of The Incident. A glance at her watch confirmed that she was actually early; a whole 120 seconds early to be exact. Sauntering through the door like a towering, grungy goddess, she could only enjoy her elation for a few seconds. She felt a sudden sinking feeling when she saw Lakshmi wave at her from a booth, sipping her god damned espresso. But it wasn’t just the feeling you get when your crush sees you looking like a Twilight fangirl the morning after The Vampire Lestat made sweet, angry, immortal love to you. It was at that exact moment that her heels chose to buckle. Lakshmi’s eyes lit up in horror and, Kali suspected, a little bit of glee as Kali crumpled into a heap of long limbs and clouds of black glitter.

 

“You’re what?” James asked into the phone receiver. He scribbled a note on a sticky pad and added it to a colourful cloud of paper on the wall. Lakshmi running late? Inconceivable.

“So what if Kali broke her shoe, why are you late? And you know it’s not actually called being late until after the time passes, right? You don’t need to call in almost not early….” The sound of frantic heels clicking on tile halted James mid-sentence. Lakshmi was hobbling away from the stairs wearing 5″ pumps.

“Girl, if you wanted to put the fear back into fierce, you did it. Why are you wearing fuck me heels TO work? I thought you just brought them for when the Sex God shows up? Is he visiting today?” He glanced at his reflection in his computer screen and patted his hair in place.

“James, don’t be a catty gay. You’re bad at it,” Lakshmi huffed, throwing herself at her chair and kicking off her shoes. She reached desperately into her desk drawer for her back-up back-up shoes which were, mercifully, flats.

“The elevator is broken, I gave my shoes to Kali for her trip to the hospital, these were the only other shoes I had with me, and it’s fucking February in Toronto so I couldn’t go barefoot. So yes, I had to wear these up 16 flights of stairs because the elevator is broken.  And no, thankfully the Canadian Sex God is not stopping by today. Also,” she stood up, now only a petite 5 feet 2 inches compared to her previous, statistically average 5’7″ with the heels, and put her hands on her hips defiantly. “Sex and the City called, and it doesn’t want its stereotypical gay male trope back, because even in 1998 it was old.”

“Fine, I guess I’ll continue to re-establish myself as the hetero friendly black gay man in my position as head sports writer. Tell me, how does it feel to be a lower level gossip monger at Toronto’s premier excuse for daily news?” James wheeled his chair over to where she was standing and held out his pen like a microphone.

“Shut up, Queen James,” Lakshmi retorted lamely, pushing his chair back to his desk. She sat down at her own and looked up to her pitch board where a neon pink sticky note reading “Tardy” was nestled in between a picture of a Kardashian baby bump and a Bieber breakdown. She furiously ripped it off and crumpled it into a ball before throwing it towards the trash. It fell, pathetically, more than a foot short. She could hear James snickering as she put on her headphones and started writing “The Daily Dish” for the next 5 days. The clock ticked its way towards 8:59am.

 

After The Party

I don’t even…  how do I even start? It just showed up and… I can’t deal right now… I mean… I was going for the vodka and then it was like…right?!

Okay, so the police just left. And they took it with them. The put it in a plastic zipper bag like it was a piece of chicken or something – a big, frozen, bloody piece of chicken. Not the pretty free-range grass-fed chicken that looks happy either; this was one of those gross bags of bleached thighs that just oozes blood and chemicals and hormones and factory farm torture vibes. They took everything else from the freezer, too, so goodbye vodka. It’s not like the girls really need all those starchy frozen dinners anyway, but the vodka! I gave them that vodka! It was Russian and they just took it! Russian!

They’re just doing their jobs, I guess. The vodka was touching it so I guess there might be evidence on the bottle or something? And honestly, I don’t think anyone would want to drink it now anyway. I mean, it was right next to it. Touching it. Smooshed up next to it. I don’t know how the girls will ever put food in that freezer again. I hope that Lizzie’s parents just pay to replace it and… oh god, Lizzie’s parents. I can’t even think about them right now. This is so horrible! This is going to totally cloud my aura for yoga next week. I was so close to being purple…  now I’m going to be all yellow and icky… Yogini Padma will be so disappointed…

But how does this even happen? Seriously, how? Last year was so chill, I met everyone for the first time, and we had a great night. Even if the vodka was cheap and domestic, it was fun. That was when I finally realized…  But you guys all know that, right? That’s so last year, it’s like 60 blog posts ago. I don’t need to bring up all that stuff. OK, back to today with the police.

They sent over only 2 officers, no back up, no forensic team like on TV. We were expecting the full crime scene experience! I mean, what’s the fun of a horrific crime happening in your best friends’ apartment if you don’t even get to see some yellow tape and chalk outlines? We were making jokes to break the tension when they showed up and they thought it was really weird. Officer Jameson, the cute little blonde officer with the killer green eyes, was really mean about it. She said something about us being truly sick if we thought there was anything funny about mutilating a human body… Thank god she didn’t see when we put sunglasses on it. Well not so much we as me. I still don’t know why Lakshmi felt the need to “vomit with utter disgust at my crassness”. She can be so over-dramatic. But when Officer Jameson and her partner Officer Lee (who was totally trying to cockblock me, by the way. Um, dude, she’s your partner. I think I have a better shot than you do) finally opened the freezer, they freaked out. They were like, 10 times worse than me. I may have been Caruso-ing, but they started running around the condo with their guns out. They made us sit down in the living room, then stand in the kitchen with our hands up. Then they made us kneel on the ground to be handcuffed, but realized they couldn’t handcuff all of us because they didn’t have enough cuffs. When Grace offered to go get her cuffs from her bedroom, they freaked out again and started waving their guns and yelling. By the time the actual forensic unit showed up with backup, I was sitting in the bathtub with James and Vishnu in zipties, and the girls were each locked in their respective rooms; when Kali pointed out that she didn’t actually live there, she was ushered into Naomi’s room. I don’t think she minded; those two are such close friends. Oh, and they were standing by the doors with their guns drawn to make sure we didn’t try and “pull something”. What did they expect us to do, decapitate them and hide the body on the balcony? They might have even shot at the door when their backup showed up… but maybe there’s always been a hole in the door? You know, that whole industrial aesthetic is really big in condos these days. Exposed brick and beams and imperfections and bullet holes; it’s probably actually good for resale value. I have to remember to tell Lizzie’s parent’s when they show up. Oh, god. Her parents…

9-1-1 thought it was a prank call, because Valentine’s Day is kinda busy for them. I don’t blame them, I mean James can sound really queer on the phone, it freaks me out sometimes. I guess a lot of women get crazy emotional around this time of year. So they’re used to getting calls about stabbings, murder-suicides, jumpers, you know, that type of thing. But then when they finally got here, they didn’t know what to do. It’s not exactly a normal day on the job, even on Valentine’s Day. Even in Toronto. This wasn’t exactly a condo meth lab explosion. I mean, you have 7 twenty-somethings standing in a kitchen with a severed human head in the freezer.

Anyway, they took the head and I’m waiting for Officer Jameson to call me back. She said it’s just routine follow up questioning, but I saw the way she looked at me. I bet she could tell I do Pilates. She was digging the TayTay man!

That’s about it from me; I can’t really top finding a head in the freezer. Until my next post, take it easy Taylor Town! Peace, love, and happiness! Oh and don’t decapitate anyone, you crazy kids!

PS: I just remembered! Yesterday I got fro-yo and they didn’t charge me extra for a waffle bowl! Can you say blessed or what?

A Tale of One City

Toronto is a city much like any other. Metropolitan, full of culture and diversity and the ability to find every kind of ethnic food you could possibly desire. In any city in the world, you can find a bunch of aimless 20 year olds trying to figure it out, make it work, and have it all. In any city in the world, you can find a bunch of 30 year olds figuring it out, making it work, and realizing they can’t have it all. This tale is about a bunch of millennials who have figured out that they can probably make it work because what they have is nothing.

If you don’t know Toronto very well, paint a picture in your mind. Draw a yellow U. Now draw a green line across the middle of that U. When you’re young and broke beyond imagining, Toronto doesn’t exist outside of those borders. If you wonder why, you’ve never been 25 and tried to make ends meet while paying off your student loans, eating more than one meal a day, and maintaining basic hygiene all at the same time. Cars and their parking spots are luxuries that only the lucky few can afford. For the rest, they ride the red rocket.

Another little thing about Toronto: its nicer than it seems, and darker than it looks. Canadians say please and thank you. They say excuse me, even if you bump into them. And they’ll cut a bitch without a second thought. Don’t underestimate Canadians. If this story has a moral, that’s it. Don’t. Underestimate. Fucking. Canucks.

This story will come out in weekly chunks. Look for a new chunk of story every Tuesday.